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A STORY ABOUT A REAL MAN                                                                    {49
clicking his heels so smartly that it was a pleasure to
look at him.
aCame to say farewell, Comrade Regimental Commis-
sar," he rapped out with exceptional warmth when he
reached the end bed.
"Good-bye, Styopa. A safe journey," answered the
Commissar, and overcoming the pain it caused him he
turned towards the soldier.
The soldier went down on his knees and took the
Commissar's big head in his hands, and, in accordance
with the old Russian custom, they kissed three times.
"Get well, Semyon Vasilyevich. May God give you
health and long life. You've got a heart of gold. YouVe
been more than a father to us. I'll remember you as long
as I live," murmured the soldier with deep emotion.
"Go now, go, Stepan Ivanovich! He must not get
excited," said Klavdia Mikhailovna, tugging the soldier's
"And thank you, nurse, for your kindness and care,"
said Stepan Ivanovich, addressing the nurse in the most
solemn tone and making her a deep, reverential bow.
"You are our Soviet angel, that's what you are!"
Quite confused now, not knowing what else to say, he
backed to the door.
"What address shall we write to you to, Siberia?"
inquired the Commissar with a smile.
"Why ask, Comrade Regimental Commissar? You
know where to write to a soldier on active service,"
answered Stepan Ivanovich with embarrassment, and,
making another deep bow, to everyone this time, vanished
behind the door.
A hush ensued and the ward seemed empty. Later they
began to talk about their regiments, about their com-
rades, and about the big operations that awaited them at
the front. They were all recovering now, and so these
were no longer dreams, but practical realities. Kukushkin
was already able to walk about the corridor, where he
found fault with the nurses, teased the other convales-
cent patients, and had managed to quarrel with many
of them. The tankman also got out of bed now and often
stood for a long time in front of the mirror in the corri-
dor examining his face, neck and shoulders, which were